You might be wondering if you should be taking supplements or not. We are certainly bombarded with advertisements and information about how every supplement under the sun is good for us. So, do we really need supplements?
The short answer is YES! But you might be asking why. You may think you eat super healthy and can get all the nutrients you need from your food. And while I definitely want you getting nutrition from your food, the unfortunate part is that it is often not possible to get everything you need. Why?
Over the years of planting crops, the soil actually gets depleted of nutrients. What that means is that the food we eat doesn’t have all of the nutrition in it that we need. In fact, data published way back in 1998 showed a sharp decline in nutritive value of foods. They found a “sharp decline in minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients” in fruits and vegetables. They attributed this to deterioration in the quality of the soil, water, and air.
Recommended Daily Allowance
You still may be thinking you get the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of most of your nutrients from your food. Doing a little math can help bring this to light. The RDA for magnesium is around 400 mg. A whole avocado contains about 58 mg of magnesium. So, eat about 7 avocados per day and you’re good!
And keep in mind, the RDA amounts for vitamins, minerals, etc. are bare minimum amounts to prevent disease from occurring. The RDA for vitamin C is 60 mg per day to prevent a disease called scurvy. Sixty mg is definitely not enough for an immune system to function very well. What this means is you actually need even MORE than the RDA, and your diet just isn’t cutting it.
What are the top 5 supplements to maintain your health?
A multivitamin is your “insurance policy” for getting all of the different vitamins in daily. A good one will contain the right kinds of vitamins that your body can absorb. For example, you will not want one with folic acid. This may not be absorbed by a lot of people. A better form of folate is 5-MTHF (5-methyltetrahydrofolate). Similarly, B12 in the form of cyanocobalamin can’t really be used by your body. However, B12 in the form of methylcobalamin can be. Confused? Ask me or your functional medicine practitioner for some guidance.
2. Fish oil (EPA-DHA)
Fish oil contains essential fatty acids that our body cannot manufacture, hence the word essential. Fish oil has a multitude of benefits. This includes supporting healthy cholesterol levels, brain function, decreasing inflammation, joint health, and improving your immune system. A good maintenance dose is between 1000-2000 mg per day. This may vary depending on your specific needs so verify this with your doctor to be certain. If you are sensitive to fish, there are other forms that can be used.
3. Vitamin D
Functional medicine practitioners have known for a long time how beneficial vitamin D is. Multiple studies have shown that healthy vitamin D levels are great for cancer prevention. It also supports the immune system and decreases inflammation. Most patients can take 2000 IU per day for maintenance. The amount you need may vary depending on your lab results. Extremely deficient people can benefit from a high dose of 10,000 IU per day for a period of time before getting to a maintenance dose.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in and on your body. They help with digestion and are key players in how your immune system works. Probiotics get deficient when antibiotics are used, with high levels of stress, hormone fluctuations, or in diets that are low in vegetables and fiber. Your food source can also play a role. Eating protein from animals that are fed hormones or antibiotics can decrease your bacteria in your body. Replenishing them daily is highly recommended.
5. Green Drink
A green drink is a whole foods supplement that contains a variety of fruit/vegetables in a powdered formula. It can be thrown into your smoothie, shake, or simply mixed with water. Since most of us do not get enough fruit and vegetables into our diet, it can be helpful in getting our 10+ servings in. Don’t worry, there are formulas that taste good! My favorite is a strawberry lemonade flavor which makes my protein shakes taste amazing.
These top 5 supplements can go a long way into maintaining health and preventing illness. It is important to note that these should be bought from a credible source. Studies that have tested supplements sold online or at department stores have shown that they often do not contain what they say they do. Instead, many contain rice flour and barely any of the supplement it was supposed to have.
Purchasing your supplements from your functional medicine provider will ensure that you are getting what you are paying for. These have been tested by 3rdparties to assure that they are pure and potent. They will also be the correct form of vitamins that your body can actually use.
If you have questions about your supplement regimen, let us know. We’d be happy to take a look and offer some advice.